Vitality: A Psychiatrist's Answer to Life's Problems

By Richard Esser | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11.
THE WONDER AND THE PITFALL IN GROWING UP

At the heart of growing up ought to be the ability to turn craziness into creativity. That means the ability to test out one’s wildest, craziest ideas to see what works and what doesn’t work. Small children reveal that ability in a striking way.

I still find it fascinating to see small children test themselves out, use their imagination, master difficulties on their own, learn for themselves and, then, take pride in their ingenuity. The ability to call forth such ingenuity is what I see is the great wonder in growing up.

That is what should be central to growing up — and, indeed, to the whole course of living. Mastering small difficulties should lead to the ability to mastering increasingly harder difficulties — and to deriving in everincreasing degree a pride and confidence in oneself for doing that. That is the key to getting what one wants later on out of one’s adult living. It is likewise the key to dealing effectively with problems facing one and to preventing the development of crippling psychiatric handicaps.

Seeing things that way raises these two questions: What is it that fosters such development in children and youth? What is it that gets in the way?

My answers to those questions came out of my efforts to help children, youth and parents.

Parents sought help, or were referred for help, because their children were seen as having serious difficulties. Such difficulties were wide-ranging:

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